Despite the title of this blog post, I’m not going to talk about the poker strategy “slowplaying,” instead I’d like to talk about speed of live poker these days.

Game speed is probably still OK in live poker tournaments with low buy-ins, but in any tournament with buy-in of $5,000 or more this is definitely not the case! It can be table dependant, but in general terms game speed is ridiculously slow; it is not good for the game.

You often hear people saying about the slow speed in some live poker tournaments “these kids are making five decisions per second while playing 20 tables online, why would they take two minutes to make a simple decision at a live table!?”

Personally, I agree with that statement in 100 percent. This is really strange, but somehow playing slowly has become some sort of fashion, like it is cool to dwell on every decision a player makes.

People who act slow every time, even when they know for sure what they are going to do from the moment they are dealt cards, are very selfish to begin with. Blinds levels in Main Events tend to be around 60-90minutes in length so if half of your table takes an additional 10 seconds to act every time it’s their turn, it slows the game by between 30 and 50 percent.

Everybody I speak to is tired of slow action! People are playing less live poker because of the slow speed or they stick to online poker where the same players who act slow at live tables act faster than lightening!

Let’s try to find some reasons why people make decisions slowly.

Stop the slow play!

“They will read me based on timing tells so I will try to have the same timing every time it’s on me, even when I’m folding.” Nobody cares about your timing or trying to read you based on it. Just fold your trash or raise your hand. We all know that when you raise under the gun you have something. It doesn’t matter if you snap-raised or raised after 30 seconds!

“I need to look straight into the eyes of all my opponents and the dealer as well before I act. Maybe I will scan some information.” Seriously?! All you would scan from them is hate that you are forcing them to wait unreasonably long!

“How many chips do you have, sir? Thanks, and now you, Mr Small Blind please?” Do you really need all that information to make your decision? I agree that sometimes it is the case and really important, but what about counting your opponent’s stack in advance when you are not in the hand? It is OK to occasionally ask your opponents to show their stack or to tell you how many chips they have in play. But when you do this every single time it is your turn to act, it is not OK any more. Especially when you know you are going to fold your 93o to your opponent’s raise but you just randomly think this is a good way to count his stack while you have cards.

Persuade yourself to call when you can beat close to nothing. Your mind is telling you to fold. You would fold straight away when playing online. But for some reason you don’t want to do it now. You are counting all the possible hands you beat, even when it’s really optimistic to think that your hand fits within your opponents’ range. After three minutes, you finally call and lose to an obvious value bet with strong hand. This is happening to me quite often but I’m working on it and getting better! The best way, in my opinion, is simply to listen to your first feeling and fold. Sometimes it’s not easy to get out of this habit. But you will, after you call and lose 20 times in the row.

Solutions to slow play

Some other ways to speed up live poker include:

partypoker made a great job by implementing a ‘Button ante’ concept. Now you only have to put your ante once an orbit not every hand. The player on the button pays the ante for the entire table. It is the same amount as big blind and when there are many people busted from the table it’s half a big blind. No more “Change please!”, no more “Your ante, sir!” three times to a guy who is on his phone. This was a perfect move to make live poker faster and it seems like everybody loves it!

Don’t raise with your “ante chips”. Let’s say you play a hand at 600-1200 blinds and you want to raise 3000 or you are calling a 3000 bet. Please don’t put 30 x 100 chips in front of you. If you don’t like to have that many chips or just hate the smallest ones, simply sell it to another player at your table. Don’t force a dealer to count it, you are making other’s lives harder and all your table will have to wait.

Another way to make the game a bit faster and also to be a good personality is to put your ante / your bet / etc closer to a dealer. It doesn’t hurt you much, and a dealer will appreciate it.

It is your own interest to play as many hands per blind level as possible to realize your edge! So guys, please, let’s stop this plague together. Don’t ruin your own live poker experience as well as others! Let’s respect each other, please!

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